Sunday, January 31, 2010

Please join us at the NEW

The Nicole Sandler Show continues online at Radio Or Not, Monday through Thursday from 6-8pm EST/3-5pm PST.

If you're still arriving at this blog, you're following the old link. Please click here or point your browser to to visit the new and improved website.

Beginning Monday, February 1, we'll have a live audio-only stream in addition to the video stream I've been using since transitioning to internet only following the demise of Air America radio.

Please go to the new site for more information, and be sure to sign up for our email newsletter!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's All Just a Little Bit of History Repeating....

It’s odd that on the day that the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons when it comes to first amendment rights, the corporation that I worked for died. There will be no funeral or burial for Air America, just a lot of people either mourning its loss or cheering its demise, and Monday morning quarterbacking why and how it failed.

All I know is that I’ve been here before. A couple of times.
Many of my listeners know that I came to talk radio from the music side. I had the opportunity to be part of a radio station in Los Angeles that was truly a treasure. KSCA fm 101.9 was the last station owned by Gene Autry’s Golden West Broadcasters. As his health was failing and the radio consolidation boom was in full explosion mode, Jackie Autry pulled the plug on LA’s Finest Rock.

We had some warning, and we held a wake. I still get emails from listeners asking me if there’s anything like KSCA anywhere. (Yes, but that’s a story for another day…)

A few years later, I was fortunate to be in on the start up of another “Triple A” station in Los Angeles. Clear Channel had decided to take two small signals, both at 103.1 FM, and simulcast an adult alternative format on them, and hired me as Music Director/Afternoon host. Channel 103.1 wasn’t quite KSCA, but it was still a wonderful radio station… until consolidation got the best of us again.

When Clear Channel merged with another broadcasting behemoth, the resulting mega group had too many stations in Los Angeles, and some had to be divested. My station included!

However, by that time, the internet boom was in full swing, and we were a unique format– a type of music station that wasn’t in every city. Clear Channel had recently launched their internet department, and I made the case to my boss that we could make history as the first radio station to go from a terrestrial signal to internet only. Much to my pleasure and surprise, they decided to do it!

You can read my account of the transition, the Chicago Tribune’s coverage, Washington Post, NY Times… You get the idea. We were the first. We were revolutionary. We made news.

We were too early! The dot com bust happened less than a year after the transition, and the door was shut on in August 2001.

I’ve seen too many radio entities, into which I had put my heart and soul, die.

It’s now ten years after my first radio to internet only venture failed. We’ve reached new levels of connectivity and technology that makes it possible to pick up internet radio. The Consumer Electronics Show held just a few weeks ago featured a new in-dash wifi internet radio, as detailed in this Consumer Reports article, and I constantly hear from listeners who are hearing my show on their iPhones.

So, here we go again. This time, I hope, we’re right on time!

When you log back on to, you’ll notice a brand new website (thanks to the amazing Heather Chase!). Now that I’m my own boss again, I’ll give myself a better time slot, so I can get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

So, starting tonight, The Nicole Sandler Show will be live from 6-8pm ET/3-5pm PT. While I figure out the best solution for audio streaming, you’ll be able to watch and listen to the show live via the ustream link embedded directly into the RadioOrNot website.

Shortly after the end of the show, the video will be archived, and the audio stream will be ready for podcasting or downloading.

There’s obviously still a lot of work to be done, and speed bumps to traverse. I hope you’ll check out the new website, and feel free to send any bugs you find, or suggestions about how to make it better. Stay tuned for info about the audio stream in the next few days. And please help spread the word. This can only work if you help!

That said, should you in a position to help financially and are so inclined, The Nicole Sandler Show is now listener supported.  There’s a paypal link in the upper right hand corner of the page. All contributions are truly appreciated!

My show will also be available for radio stations to run. Please feel free to call or write you local station and suggest they carry it!

Thanks again for all the wonderful emails and kind thoughts since we got the news. They mean more to me than I can express.

As long as you want to hear the show, we’ll keep going…. Radio or not….

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Life Goes On or Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

***Post corrected! The new time for The Nicole Sandler Show, beginning Monday Jan. 25, is 6-8pm ET.  You can find the links to watch/listen right here at ***

It's been a really rough week.

It started last Sunday, when my boyfriend and I realized it was time to put his dog down. Orion was 12 years old, and had suffered for the last year from oral melanoma. Despite David's superhuman efforts, love and ridiculous amount of money spent, Orion closed his eyes for the last time Sunday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Scott Brown won the Senate seat held by Ted Kennedy for the last 46 years, and killing the supposed filibuster-proof majority (not that it did the Dems much good, anyway).

Thursday started off badly enough, with the Supreme Court ruling that effectively gutted democracy in the USA. No, I'm not exaggerating. The laws that limited corporate campaign contributions that have stood for over 100 years were overturned by five activist members of SCOTUS.

While I was scrambling Thursday afternoon to bring you a show to spell out how serious an event that was for our country, I got the news that Air America radio had closed its doors.

No, it was not a good week at all.

I still had to do a show Thursday night. As a radio lifer, it's what I do.

I had gone through a similar situation in 2000-2001. The station I was working for at the time, Channel 103.1 in Los Angeles, was sold. It had been owned by Clear Channel but, due to a merger with another broadcasting behemoth, had to be divested.

The internet boom was in full swing, and we were a unique format-- a type of music station that wasn't in every city. Clear Channel had recently launched their internet department, and I made the case to my boss (the wonderful Charlie Rahilly) that we could make history as the first radio station to go from a terrestrial signal to internet only.

You can read my account of the transition, the Chicago Tribune's coverage, Washington Post, NY Times... You get the idea.  We were the first. We were revolutionary. We made news.

We were too early! The dot com bust happened less than a year after the transition, and the door was shut on in August 2001.

Then 9/11 happened, and I found myself without a microphone. It was tough to sit by that day and watch the world change and not be able to interact with people on the air.

So, when our world changed on Thursday via the Supreme Court decision and, albeit in a smaller way, though the loss of Air America, I knew I had to keep talking.

Thankfully, I had started webcasting my show recently using ustream. Though this website, Facebook and twitter, and my email list, I was able to spread the word that I would do my show Thursday night.

By scrolling down to the right blog entry, clicking the link to your left or clicking here, you can watch the show I did Thursday night. And if you just want the audio, click here to listen.

You can also subscribe to my podcasts via iTunes here.

In the days and weeks ahead, I'll be figuring out the best way to bring you the show live via audio and video streams, as well as a podcasting model. I hope you'll bear with me as I get all the pieces of the puzzle placed. But I want to keep the show going uninterrupted while I do all of that.

Beginning tomorrow-Monday- I'll move the show to a more reasonable hour. I'll be live from 6-8pm, Monday thru Thursday, for now anyway. I hope you'll join me! 

All you need to do is come here to for all the links you'll need to watch or listen. And please spread the word to your friends and other interested people.

Thanks for your continued support. It means more to me than you know!

Friday, January 22, 2010

My first post Air America show

Today was a tough day. After learning that Air America had ceased operations, following the horrendous Supreme Court ruling on corporate campaign contributions, I knew I had to get back on the air, or web, as it were.

Thanks to all who came and watched & listened. I appreciate the support more than you know!

I'm going to take tomorrow off, have a long weekend, regroup, and I'll be back Monday. I'm not sure what time I'll be on, though. The late night thing does take it's toll, so I'll likely move the show to an earlier time slot. Your suggestions are welcome (nicole at

Please check back here over the weekend or Monday morning, as I'll be sure to have an update here!

In the meantime, here's tonight's show.... just in case you couldn't stay awake!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

SCOTUS Screwed Us

Watch this video for the information on how the Supreme Court screwed the American people today with their ruling on Citizens United vs. the FEC

Air America Radio - RIP, but Radio or Not lives on!

I'll have to really take some time to put together a fitting eulogy for the company who helped bring a progressive message to a country inundated with right wing propaganda.

But for now, I'm focused on getting through tonight's show. Yes, you heard right. I will do a live show tonight in my former 11pm-1am ET timeslot on Air America.  On the left hand side of the page you'll see a screen that will go live when the show begins at 11pm.

Today brought such bad news from the Supreme Court, and I spent all day putting together a show to help get the word out about what the ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC means.

I'll be joined by John Bonifaz, legal director of Voter Action, and the director of the new campaign for a constitutional amendment to clarify that corporations are not people and the constitution doesn't give them rights under the first amendment, at

I'll also speak with Congressman Alan Grayson (who's launched a website to help turn things around at and Congresswoman Donna Edwards (who is introducing legislation for a constitutional amendment) about what happened today.  And we'll lighten things up a bit with my regular Thursday night guest John Fugelsang.

I hope you'll join me too.!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary Mr. President... or Not

Today marks one year since we all watched Barack Obama sworn in as the 44th President of these United States. Tonight we'll take a look at how he's doing.

I'll be joined by Ellen Ratner of the Talk Radio News Service, Bill Adair- Washington Bureau Chief of the St. Petersburg Times and Editor of, legendary White House correspondent Helen Thomas, and Jason Leopold - Deputy Managing Editor of and Editor-at-Large of  The Public Record.

You already know my thoughts, though I'm sure I'll elaborate tonight. And I look forward to hearing what you think of Obama's first year in office too. Feel free to post them here, and call in tonight between 11pm and 1am ET at 866-303-2270.

Watch me talk, or just listen to the audio stream by clicking on the links!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why We Need Real Health Care Reform (and what we've been given so far isn't)

I don't understand the people in this country who think we don't need health care reform. Perhaps they lack the compassion gene. How can anyone deny that we have a serious problem in the United States when a family can lose everything simply because one of its members got sick?

Compassion is a theme to which I keep returning, for good reason. Access to quality, affordable health care should be a basic human right, not a privilege for the wealthy. The United States is the only developed nation on the planet that doesn't take care of its citizens in this most basic and, yes, compassionate way.

In this country where the middle class is quickly dwindling, our health care stem is only helping to accelerate the process. With real unemployment hovering at around 17.3%, more and more Americans are losing their employer-provided insurance policies each day. COBRA is prohibitively expensive but, if you're lucky enough to have enough money squirreled away to pay the premiums, watch out when the 18 months is up.
< Along with probably millions of other Americans, I'm living the problem right now.

On August 22, 2008, I lost my job. The morning show I hosted on South Florida's then-progressive talk station was replaced by Imus(!), followed by a full format flip six months later, but that's a story for another day!. On Sept. 1, I went on COBRA.

COBRA is an acronym for The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which allows workers and their families who lose their jobs, and therefore their benefits, to continue participating in the group plan for up to 18 months, by paying for the full cost of the policy, up to 102%.

With so many Americans losing their jobs during this recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offered some help by way of premium reduction. Eligible people would only have to pay 35% of the COBRA premiums, with the other 65% reimbursed to the employer through a tax credit.

This break originally was to last for nine months, but was later extended to 15.

Unfortunately for me, to be eligible, "the involuntary termination" must have occurred between September 1, 2008 and February 29, 2010. Yes, I was fired on August 22. If only for eight days more...

But that still wouldn't help me now, as the length of COBRA coverage is only 18 months. My coverage runs out on February 28, 2010.

So, I've been shopping around to see what's available.

My plan doesn't allow for conversion to an individual plan, so that option is out. There are a number of websites that will allow you to shop for health insurance, so I began looking. At first blush, it seems almost manageable.  But don't be fooled.

I turned 50 in November. I'm relatively healthy, but I challenge you to find a 50-year old who doesn't have at least one "pre-existing condition." You'd certainly have to look beyond me to find one!

I got a representative from United Health Care on the phone to find out what my options were. I answered her litany of questions before getting to the kicker: In the last 10 years, have you had any abnormal physical exam, x-ray, EKG, MRI, CT scan or any adverse or abnormal laboratory or other test results?

Well, duh! In 10 years? Of course. Here we go...

I had to disclose that I've had two bouts with skin cancer. A malignant melanoma a few years ago, and that pesky squamous cell carcinoma that was removed from my nose just three weeks ago. Bingo.

According to one of the brokers I spoke with, who represents Aetna, Cigna, Humana and a number of other extortionists health insurance companies, in order to be approved, one must be "squamous-free for 10 years!"

So, do I have any recourse? Yes. There are six questions you're asked to determine if you are eligible for a guaranteed issue "HIPAA" plan.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, in addition to being responsible for all those privacy papers you have to sign at any visit to a doctor, also makes some provisions for continuation of coverage.

If you answer yes to all of the following questions, you're eligible to buy insurance from the company you're currently with, with a caveat. Of course, there's always a caveat. Hold on, it's coming.

But first, the questions:

  1. I do not have any other health insurance coverage (or it will be involuntarily terminated soon).
  2. I have been insured by creditable coverage1 (as defined below) for the last 18 months or more with no lapse in coverage of more than 63 days.
  3. My most recent coverage was under a group health plan2 (as defined below), a governmental plan, or a church plan; or under an individual plan that terminated due to: the insurer's insolvency; the insurer's discontinuance of all its individual coverage in Florida; or the fact that I no longer live in a Florida service area of my prior insurer's network plan.
  4. My most recent coverage was not terminated due to nonpayment of premiums, fraud, or intentional misrepresentations.
  5. I am not eligible for any coverage under a conversion plan, a group health plan2 (as defined below), Medicare, or Medicaid.
  6. I accepted and exhausted any group continuation of coverage (including COBRA) that was offered to me.
Yippee! I answered yes to all six questions! I can get insurance! Oh yeah, the caveat.

If you answered YES to all six questions, your current insurer has to cover you, pre-existing conditions and all, for 10% above the cost of the policy, multiplied by two!  Did you get that?

My insurance extortionist company, United Healthcare, has one plan that they can offer me. It's their "co-pay select". They offer it with a choice of at $2500 or $5000 deductible, with 80/20 co-insurance. I asked the woman on the line what that would cost.

She was only able to give me ballpark figures, but here's what I was able to write down through my anger and tears.

She said that the $2500 deductible plan was somewhere around $476 a month, plus 10% then doubled, with the grand total for me coming out to $1073 a month. When I asked about the $5000 deductible, it came out to around $800 a month. For me only! Plus a $5000 deductible.

If the health care bill passes as it now looks, I'd be the not-so-proud owner of a "Cadillac Plan!" The definition of a Cadillac plan is one that costs more than $8500 a year for a single person.

With the higher deductible, this policy would cost me $9600 with another $5k out of pocket before the insurance pays, for a grand total of $14,600.  With the lower deductible, I get to pay this leech $12,876 plus another $2500 before they come to the party, for a total of $15,376. 

And REFORM would tax me on that to boot?

John McCain campaigned on the absurd notion of taxing health care benefits; Barack Obama opposed it. Why then is President Obama pushing it now? Doesn't he get what he's doing to middle class working people like me?

I'm getting screwed from both sides, and it's certainly not fun.

This is not the change I voted for. And if the Democrats and the administration are wondering why the base is turning on them, all they have to do is read my story. I am not alone. There are millions more Americans just like me, fighting to keep their heads above water but getting deeper by the minute. If they don't fix this bill while they still can, we're all going to drown.